An Education That Serves Students Who Serve Our Country


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Thursday, May 25, 2023
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May is a special time to honor the brave service members and veterans who serve our country. With Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day occurring in May, there’s no better time to honor the people whose dedication and sacrifices keep us safe. If you’re an active service member or veteran, Rio Salado College thanks you for all you’ve done. We also want to let you know that there are many resources available that can make it easier for veterans, active military, and their families to go back to school while also saving money.

If you’re thinking of going back to school, take a look at these programs and resources that can help you earn college credit, find scholarships and grants, and give you the career support you need to help you get ahead in civilian life.

Prior Experience

Your time in the armed forces didn’t just build your character—it also provided you with training and invaluable experience that could help you earn college credits! As part of the Maricopa Community Colleges district, Rio Salado offers credit for prior learning tests and evaluations that can award you up to 30 college credits if you’ve received training that parallels a discipline offered by the school. You can also receive credit if you’ve completed programs during your service that could count as a prerequisite or elective credit. You could earn credit hours in Physical Education just for having successfully completed Basic Training!

In order to receive credit for military experience, you’ll need to provide official documentation of military training. You may also want to consult the American Council on Education (ACE) MIlitary Guide to find out more about how your military education and training can transfer as college credit. The ACE guide can also point you to resources for saving money on college tuition and finding professional associations and other job search resources.

As a military service member, you are also eligible to take College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP®) exams to get college credit for prior study. If you've studied at other schools, learned a language abroad, or developed comprehensive subject knowledge through home-schooling, taking a CLEP® can help you earn prerequisite courses and get a head-start on completing your degree or certificate program.

The VA

Always check the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to see if you qualify for any existing benefit programs. The VA site has a very useful GI Bill comparison tool that can show you what kind of GI benefits are on offer from approved schools and employers across the nation. Don't forget to look at state veterans services: you may find grants and scholarships available at the local level that could clear a path back to higher learning. For example: the state of Arizona offers a tuition waiver scholarship for resident veterans who have been injured or wounded in the line of duty (as well as dependents of service members killed in action).


In addition to scholarships and grants offered by states and the federal government, there are non-profit organizations and charitable foundations that offer funding opportunities for service members and veterans. A few of the more notable foundations include:

There are databases and tools for finding active military and veterans scholarships online. The U.S. Department of Education can also be a very helpful resource for finding grants, and offers a few military funding opportunities through their Veterans Upward Bound program and Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.

Student Life

Joining a student group or honors society can be a great way to network, find employment opportunities, and gain access to exclusive scholarships that are only available to participating members. Rio Salado College hosts chapters of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) and the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), two organizations that are highly engaged with the local community. The skills of teamwork, leadership, and discipline you learned in the services would be of great benefit to these organizations, and they in turn could help you move forward with your educational goals. 

Yellow Ribbon Program

Looking for additional funding help for your education? Take a look at the Yellow Ribbon Program. Established in 2008 as part of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, the Yellow Ribbon Program offers a tuition payment-matching partnership between the VA and participating schools. Schools contribute a specific amount to help veterans cover their tuition and the VA matches that amount.

The Yellow Ribbon Program offers funds on a first-come, first-serve basis. Eligible veterans include: 

  • Those who have served at least 36 months of active duty after September 10, 2001
  • Purple Heart recipients with an honorable discharge and any amount of service
  • Service members who were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-related disability and served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001.
  • A dependent eligible for Transfer of Entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • Fry Scholarship recipients who attend terms after August 1, 2018.

If you don’t see yourself in one of those categories, that doesn’t mean you’re not eligible! Your access to this funding can depend on a variety of service requirements. Check with Military Advisement to see if you qualify.

Veteran Services and Support at Rio

Rio Salado’s Veterans Services is here to help you make a smooth transition to the classroom. Our Veterans Services Office acts as a liaison between the college and the Department of Veterans Affairs and helps process Veterans education benefits. 

Our Military Advisement team can help service members and their spouses and dependents find the right classes and pathways to help them meet their goals. Advisement can also provide information on transfer credits, dedicated student services, and help you find the resources you need to ensure your eligibility. 

Don't forget that if you're an active service member you must receive approval from an Educational Services Officer (ESO) or counselor within the Military Service prior to enrolling.

Military Advisement can be contacted via email at or by calling 480-517-8590. Veterans Services can be reached at or by calling 480-517-8153.


Article by Austin Brietta

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